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Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature

Must every bill receive a committee hearing?

According to page 131-132 of Making Laws, House Research Department, 2018,

"A committee is not required to consider, still less to report, every bill referred to it. Many bills proceed no further than introduction and referral to a committee; they are never heard of again. Others emerge from one committee only to founder in another.

A committee hearing on a referred bill is not automatic. The author must ask for one. Some bills do not get a hearing because the author decides not to request one or push strongly for one. An author is not entitled to a hearing on request. The committee chair decides and may refuse. Some chairs find this easier than others, but almost every chair, however amiable, denies some bills a hearing. A chair may refuse for simple lack of time; the limited session period does not permit a hearing on every introduced bill, and a chair may consider one bill more important than another. A chair may decide that a bill is not ripe for legislative decision for some reason--a pending federal action, a court case, a forthcoming government report on the subject. A chair simply may oppose a bill on its merits, or, conclude that a majority of the members of the committee are opposed, making a hearing pointless."

More details are available in Making Laws, House Research Department, 2018 on pages 99-136.